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Jazz

Steve Khan, “Subtext” (Tone Center). “Whatever happened to Steve Khan?” is not a question that routinely bedevils jazz listeners, not even those who were partisans of jazz rock fusion in an era where the qualitative distance between great fusion (Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra) and drek (Jeff Lorber) was many miles indeed. Steve Khan – the son of song lyricist Sammy Cahn who changed the spelling of his last name for the sake of independence – was always one of the more enigmatic figures in jazz fusion. I’m not all that sure that what he does here to Ornette Coleman’s tune “Bird Food,” Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes” and Thelonious Monk’s “Hackensack” ought to have been done. For quite a while now, he has been turning everything into a Latin groove. In the case of “Infant Eyes,” it’s a rather dreadful idea; less so, obviously, in Monk’s “Hackensack,” whose sprung rhythms lend themselves to Latin groovemongering of a decidedly minor sort. The trouble with Steve Khan has quite often been this: he’s a fine guitar player but a musician with hopelessly second-rate taste.

2.5 stars (Jeff Simon)